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John Fleiner English 250 PG Lindsay D‟Andrea 18 April 2014 The Source of Carbon Dioxide: Humans or Nature? One of the most prevailing issues threatening our planet is global warming. Global warming is the unequivocal and progressive rise in the overall temperature of the earth‟s surface and is perceived as an international threat among the majority of industrialized nations. If the overall temperature of the earth were to rise by a mere 110F by 2100 as predicted, planet Earth will face inescapable harm (Sea Level Rise). Melting of the Greenland ice sheet and Antarctic polar ice caps would cause a sea level rise so intense that London and Los Angeles would become submerged by water (Sea Level Rise)! In its Fourth Assessment Report on climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change officially declared with undeniable certainty that carbon dioxide emissions are the leading cause of global warming. In spite of its‟ assurance, there has yet to be a defining answer among the scientific community that classifies the source of carbon dioxide emissions. For the safety of our planet, it is a common ground among most countries, regardless of opinion, to clearly identify the underlying source of carbon dioxide emissions and prevent the threat of global warming. In an endeavor to detect that source, an analysis of historic carbon dioxide concentration reveals two potential causes of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide content: Natural climate variability and anthropogenic global warming. Natural climate variability is the overall climatic change of the earth over the course of earth‟s geologic lifetime. Through the study of paleoclimatology – changes in natural climate

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variability in relation to the geologic history of the Earth and its progression over time – climatologists have discovered that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration has varied considerably over Earth‟s 4.7 billion year old existence. The principle of radiometric/radioactive dating of sediment takes a comparative ratio of a substances‟ decayed quantity and applies its ratio with a radioactive elements‟ half-life to determine the approximate age and origin of that sediment. The potassium-argon dating method takes potassium‟s half-life of 1.3 billion years to compute the beginning of the Archean Eon that began an estimated 4 billion years ago (Michaels). At this time, Earth‟s second atmosphere formed from extensive volcanic degassing. Volcanic degassing released the highest concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth‟s geologic history due to the continual crustal formation of magma to rock (Michaels). Findings from geologists Alan Kaufman and Shuhai Xiao‟s “ion microprobe analysis of microfossils extracted from a Proterozoic (1.4 billion y/a) shale” indicate that the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is between 10 – 200 times greater 1.4 billion+ years ago than present values (Kaufman). To further illustrate the relationship between atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and natural paleoclimatic temperature change, Dana Royer from the department of Earth and Environmental Sciences utilized four hundred and ninety climate proxies of Phanerozoic carbon dioxide concentration. The alignment of proxy records create an in-depth line-graph and scatter plot (see figure 1) that clearly illustrate the global climate change due to carbon dioxide since the beginning of the Cambrian period. The dramatic change in carbon dioxide (measured in ppm – parts per million) from the beginning of the Cambrian period 540 ma years ago to the Quaternary Period roughly 2.1 ma years ago directly relates to the 70 C decrease in temperature between these two time periods (Royer). The indication of previous higher carbon dioxide concentration correlates with higher temperatures in past history of the

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Earth. This defends the scientific notation that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is the sole amplifier of natural paleoclimatic temperature change and adequately establishing a geologic temperature record. The evidence of earth‟s geologic temperature record sufficiently supports climate change resulting from natural climate variability while unexpectedly providing a new source of data gathering: Glaciers! The widely accepted definition of an ice age is an interval in geologic time of prolonged reduction in the overall climatic temperatures of the earth that results in the formation of continental ice sheets and glaciers (Eldredge). An ice age consists of alternating, short-termed glaciation cycles that transition between glacials – natural periods of cooler temperatures – and interglacials – natural periods of warmer temperatures – lasting an approximate 100,000 years (Glacial-Interglacial Cycles). According to the Etheridge from the National Climate Data Center and an analysis of ice core proxy records, the current Holocene epoch - subdivision of geologic time – of Earth is in the early stages of an interglacial period (Thompson). Noting that interglacial periods are intervals of warmer and increasing geologic temperatures that last thousands of years, the Holocene epoch indicates a current, inevitable, nonanthropogenic increase in climatic temperatures. J.M. Adams and H.Faure infer that a more active hydrological cycle during the early-mid Holocene epoch has created an imbalance in the global carbon cycle causing the climatic change between the previous glacial to current interglacial period. Models predict that “on a long (>1 Myr) timescale the paleoatmospheric carbon dioxide content is controlled by the competing effects of the consumption (drawdown) of atmospheric carbon dioxide by continental silicate chemical weathering and associated precipitation of marine carbonates versus the addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by Earth Degassing” (Kerrick). An imbalance in the global carbon cycle declares that the absorption and consumption

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of carbon dioxide from continental silicate chemical weathering and precipitation is less than the amount of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere through the degassing of Earth, leading to natural global warming over tens of thousands of years. The process of natural degassing of earth predominantly consists of the output of carbon dioxide emissions from subaerial and submarine volcanism. The global estimates of atmospheric carbon dioxide discharge of subaerial volcanoes ranges from 2.0-2.5 x 1012 mol/yr or 0.25 billion metric tons. Submarine volcanoes and mid-ocean ridges produce 1-3 x 1012 mol/yr or 0.3 billion metric tons of atmospheric carbon dioxide output (Kerrick). After deducting the absorption of discharge from mid-ocean ridges, silicate weathering and marine carbonates, the concluding interval of carbon dioxide output from the degassing of Earth ranges from 0.13 – 0.44 billion metric tons per year (Gerlach). The results provide a negative imbalance of the global carbon cycle; 0.13-0.44 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, avoiding the natural processes of absorption and consumption. The consequence is long-term (>10,000) global warming until the cycle is rebalanced. The evidence establishing earth‟s geologic temperature records and the measurements of volcanic degassing defend climatologists‟ (proponents of) research of natural climate variability factoring into the source of global warming. Anthropogenic climate change refers to the increase in carbon dioxide emissions due to human activities that ultimately result in global temperature rises. The start of events began in 1751 when the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center recorded the first global carbon dioxide emissions estimate from the burning of fossil fuels, cement manufacturing, and gas flaring. Human induced emissions initiated at 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide/yr (Etheridge). By the end of the first Industrial Revolution (between 1820 and 1840), human

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induced annual emissions had exponentially risen to 125 million metric tons of carbon dioxide/yr (Etheridge). By 2008, the last updated record of annual human carbon dioxide emissions rested at a staggering 32 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide/yr, 10.666 billion times the amount recorded in 1751 (Keeling) The global rise in emissions directly correlates to records of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. Historical records from ice cores accurately provide the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration dating back to the year 1010 (Boden). The first recorded carbon dioxide concentration level is 279.5 ppm (1010). Pre-industrialized Revolution concentration levels lied at 277.2 ppm. Post-industrialization offered the first hypothetical conception of human induced global warming when the ppm rose to 284.6 ppm, 7.4 ppm greater than in 1760. The most recent record from 2014 indicates the carbon dioxide concentration to be 399.47 ppm, a dramatic intensification in atmospheric content (Boden). The rise in ppm has caused a 4.50 F change in temperature since 1751, strongly supporting and suggesting anthropogenic global warming (Romm). The corresponding evaluation would be a near impossible coincidence to explain considering the comparison between 32 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide/yr emitted by humans vs. 0.13 – 0.44 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide/yr emitted by natural degassing. Despite the current trends in human induced emissions, the scientific community needed a second precise method of analysis to accurately label humans as the source of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions. A recent discovery upon the testing of the “Suess effect” developed by Austrian chemist Hans Suess has done just that. The element carbon (C) bonds with the element oxygen to form carbon dioxide. Carbon has three naturally occurring isotopic states: 12C and 13C, and14C.
12

C of carbon has an estimated natural abundance of 99% while 13C

has a natural abundance of 1% (Carbon). Volcanic degassing emits both 12C and 13C while fossil

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fuels only emit 12C. Because fossil fuels account for over 75% (24 billion metric tons) of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions/yr, humans are diluting the amount of 13C in the atmosphere as according to the “Suess effect” (IPCC). A study provided by Bohm tested Coralline sponge skeletons to reconstruct the last 600 years of carbon history (see Figure 2). The oldest record of Coralline sponge skeletons reveal that the natural abundance of 13C in the year 1400 was at an approximate 4.9%. The reconstructed graph shows a relatively stable level of atmospheric carbon content up until the pre-industrialized revolution, 360 years later. Since then, the 13C levels have exponentially decreased due to the amount of 12C entering the atmosphere from fossil fuel emissions. The most recently obtainable data gathered from the tested Coralline sponge skeletons in 2000 present a natural abundance of 13C to be just over 3%. Calculating the exponential rate of decline between 2000 and 2013 indicates a near exact correlation with the current natural abundance of 13C, resting at 1% (Royal). The study concludes that such a large reduction in a very small abundance percentage of 13C is due to immense volumes of fossil fuel emissions, identifying humans as the primary source of global warming. It is undeniable that carbon dioxide is the leading cause of global warming. Since the genesis of Earth‟s second atmosphere, carbon dioxide has proven its‟ foremost role in paleoclimatic temperature change. An evaluation of extensive research and conclusive evidence in the disputed fields of natural climate variability and anthropogenic climate change conclude that human activity is the leading source of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. An imbalance in the global carbon cycle caused from the current interglacial period and the output of emissions from Earths natural degassing processes are a source of carbon dioxide increase. However, such sources provide an insufficient and insignificant amount of carbon

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dioxide output and therefore are not the paramount source for global warming. It is evident from ice core proxy records, accurate emission estimates taken since 1751, and a measurement of carbon isotope ratios in the atmosphere that human induced activity is the sole source of carbon dioxide emissions, resulting in global warming. Despite our own personal beliefs on climate change, humans are polluting the atmosphere with excessive amounts of carbon dioxide. We all act as a contributing source to global warming and it is upon us and our governmental bodies to insure the safety of our being and the future of our planet. What will be done to stop global warming?

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Figure 1:

Royer, Dana L. "CO2-forced Climate Thresholds during the Phanerozoic."Geochimica Et Cosmochimica Acta 70.23 (2006): 5665-675.ScienceDirect. Elsevier Ltd, 1 Dec. 2006. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

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Figure 2:

Bohm, F., A. Haase-Schramm, A. Eisenhauer, W. -C Dullo, M. M. Joachimski, H. Lehnert, and J. Reitner. "Evidence for Preindustrial Variations in the Marine Surface Water Carbonate System from Coralline Sponges." Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 3.3 (2002): 113. American Geophysical Union. American Geophysical Union, 21 Mar. 2002. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

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Works Cited Adams, J. M, and H. Faure. "Changes in Moisture Balance between Glacial and Interglacial Conditions: Influence on Carbon Cycle Processes." Global Continental Changes: The Context of Paleohydrology 115 (1996): 27-42. Lyell Collection. Geological Society Special Publication. Web. 14 Apr. 2014. Boden, Tom, Gregg Marland, and Bob Andres. "Global CO2 Emissions from Fossil-Fuel Burning, Cement Manufacture, and Gas Flaring: 1751-2008." Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center. U.S. Department of Energy, 10 June 2011. Web. 17 Apr. 2014. Bohm, F., A. Haase-Schramm, A. Eisenhauer, W. -C Dullo, M. M. Joachimski, H. Lehnert, and J. Reitner. "Evidence for Preindustrial Variations in the Marine Surface Water Carbonate System from Coralline Sponges." Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 3.3 (2002): 113. American Geophysical Union. American Geophysical Union, 21 Mar. 2002. Web. 18 Apr. 2014. "Carbon." - Element Information, Properties and Uses. Royal Society of Chemistry, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2014. Eldredge, Sandy, and Bob Biek. "Ice Ages – What Are They and What Causes Them?" Survey Notes 3 Sept. 2010: n. pag. Web. 18 Apr. 2014. Etheridge, D. M., L. P. Steele, R. L. Langenfelds, R. J. Francey, J. -M Barnola, and V. I. Morgan. "Historical CO2 Record Derived from a Spline Fit (75 Year Cutoff) of the Law Dome." Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center. U.S. Department of Energy, June 1998. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

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Gerlach, Terry. "Volcanic Versus Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide." Eos92.24 (2011): 201-08. American Geophysical Union. American Geophysical Union, 14 June 2011. Web. 18 Apr. 2014. "Glacial-Interglacial Cycles." NOAA Paleoclimatology Program. National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration, 20a Aug. 2008. Web. 18 Apr. 2014. IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007. Publication. Intergovernal Panel on Climate Change, 2007. Web. 18 Apr. 2014. Kaufman, Alan J, and Shuhai Xiao. "High CO2 Levels in the Proterozoic Atmosphere Estimated from Analyses of Individual Microfossils."Nature 425.6955 (2003): 279-82. Nature. Macmillan Publishers Limited, 2003. Web. 18 Apr. 2014. Keeling C. D., S. C. Piper, R. B. Bacastow, M. Wahlen, T. P. Whorf, M. Heimann, and H. A. Meijer. “Exchanges of atmospheric CO2 and 13CO2 with the terrestrial biosphere and oceans from 1978 to 2000.” I. Global aspects, SIO Reference Series, No. 01-06, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego, 88 pages, 2001. Web. 18 Apr. 2014. Kerrick, Derrill M. "PRESENT AND PAST NONANTHROPOGENIC CO2 DEGASSING FROM THE SOLID EARTH." Reviews of Geophysics 39.4 (2001): 565-85. University of British Columbia. American Geophysical Union, 14 June 2010. Web. 18 Apr. 2014. Michaels, George H, and Brian M. Fagan. "Potassium-Argon Dating."Chronological Methods. University of California, Santa Barbara, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2014. Romm, Joe. "Koch-Funded Study Finds 2.5°F Warming Of Land Since 1750 Is Manmade, „Solar Forcing Does Not Appear To Contribute‟."ThinkProgress RSS. ThinkProgress, 20 Jan. 2013. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

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Royer, Dana L. "CO2-forced Climate Thresholds during the Phanerozoic."Geochimica Et Cosmochimica Acta 70.23 (2006): 5665-675.ScienceDirect. Elsevier Ltd, 1 Dec. 2006. Web. 18 Apr. 2014. "Sea Level Rise." National Geographic. National Geographic, n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2014. Thompson, L. G., E. Mosley-Thompson, M. E. Davis, P. -N Lin, K. A. Henderson, J. Cole-Dai, J. F. Bolzan, and K. -b Liu. "Late Glacial Stage and Holocene Tropical Ice Core Records from Huascaran, Peru." Late Glacial Stage and Holocene Tropical Ice Core Records from Huascaran, Peru 269.5220 (1995): 46-50. Science. American Association for the Advancement of Science, 7 July 1995. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

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Assignment #5 Documented Essay Rubric English 250 Excellent CONTEXT Purpose, position, audience
- Strong introduction accurately and substantially previews the issues in the entire paper…Answers “so what?” question - Necessary context provided for thesis + purpose - Clear, interesting thesis demonstrates a unique, specific argument - Obvious effort to move beyond “listed” or basic persuasive thesis - Thesis supported with relevant evidence - Clear, concrete reasons and detailed evidence. - Essay offers a fair, thorough treatment of the topic - Paragraphs are unified and developed. Various perspectives used - Conclusion is thoughtful and substantive - Paragraphs follow a logical structure beyond “listed” points - Strong transitions link ideas at the sentence and paragraph level - Topic sentences strong and relevant, relate to thesis - Effective word choice and sentence variety - Shows evidence of line-editing - Formal writing tone and conventions observed - Tone is moderate, professional, enhances writer‟s ethos - Innovative / relevant title - Appropriate font, spacing, and MLA formatting (page and citations) - All Works Cited used within body - Length and conventions meet requirements.

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Fair

SUBSTANCE Scope, depth, relevance, fairness

ORGANIZATION Focus, structure, relationship, emphasis STYLE Conventions, language, editing

DELIVERY Consistency, accessibility, professionalism

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